22 August 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name, Particularly Stephanie

Samantha Elise Elliott, that is my name. It's a beautiful name, in my humble (okay, maybe not-so-humble) opinion. It has been my name for well over 22 years now, and the only nickname I ever really go by is Sam, much to my chagrin (but that's a post for another day).

My point is that at no point have I ever gone by any other name (though I'm sure I'd smell as sweet), especially not, say, Stephanie. Not, of course, that there is anything wrong with the name Stephanie; it too is a beautiful name. But, it's taken by my sister, and as such, when I am called Stephanie, it brings back memories of being a very frustrated little girl who couldn't understand why her family couldn't seem to remember that she was Samantha.

Finally, I think I have the answer. It has presented itself to me before, and I noticed it then, but I never really put two and two together. Four, the answer is four.

You see, I always assumed that the mix up was caused by the fact that my sister and I are close in age, looked similar when we were younger, and both had an uncanny talent for driving people nuts. Then, when I was nine, I went to Disneyland with my father et al. On the plane to California, the six of us were forced to be seated separately. I was seated next to a very nice, older woman named Rose (yes, I still remember her), who was on her way to visit her recently-born grandson for the first time. Anyway, during our flight, we chatted quite a bit, and when she was exiting the plane in San Diego, she said, "It was nice meeting you, Stephanie. Have a good trip." I was amazed; it was the first time that I had ever noticed (though I'm sure it had happened before) anyone calling me by my sister's name, and she didn't know I had a sister called Stephanie!

As the years wore on, the same scenario would replay itself, and I always remembered Rose and that flight, but I never thought much about it beyond alternating between amused and perplexed. And then, in the past week, I have been called Stephanie three times by three different people - none of whom know that my sister exists, let alone her name.

Two of the three of those people had seen my name in print several times in the form of correspondence and my resume, and still, they got it wrong. As I was thinking back on Rose, again, and remembering other instances when it has happened, I realized that there was most assuredly a correlation between the reason that strangers remember Samantha as Stephanie and the reason that my family did - probably the same reason that my mother chose those two names as the names of her daughters.

Thus, I have come to the conclusion that I should just get used to it, because (for no apparent reason) Samantha and Stephanie go together like peas and carrots, and biscuits and gravy, and...why are all of my analogies about food? I think it's time for dinner.

Until later!


Kimberly said...

This journal entry really resonated with me - I can relate! I don't know how many times people have called me Kim Brown or Kim Bone or Kim Bauer. And every time someone does, I feel irascibly feisty about it.

For me, I think it's because our identity is so tied to our names, which also explains why we take pride in / or feel affection for our monikers. Great post! I've really been enjoying all these updates! Keep up the great work!

Ellers said...

I wrote my capstone on naming and identity (as it related to Lewis Carroll's Alice books), and I read the works of a lot of philosophers and psychologists (very dense stuff) who droned on and on about the topic. I don't know that I ever came to a decision about which side of the argument I wanted to come down on. Eh, I don't know that it matters. I just know that I'm as much irritated by the mislabeling as I am fascinated about why it's always the same incorrect label.

Anonymous said...

Question. When naming a baby, do you pick out the name before the baby is born or do you wait to see the personality of the baby. Do people 'grow' into their names?